23 October, 2020

They Weren’t Even Cubs

We left then, letting the Lankan army run amok. We can’t now.

They Weren’t Even Cubs

I got to Sri Lanka two days after the tsunami in 2004 where I worked for the UN. I was evacuated on September 16, ’08. All the UN aid agencies and NGOs were ordered to evacuate from Kilinochchi that morning as the Lankan government said they could no longer offer protection to us. The UN gave in and decided to pull out. There was no pressure actually and I am quite critical of what the UN did at that time. At least 2,50,000 civilians lived in the north. The next 2-3 days, there were civilians protesting in front of our office, pleading with us not to leave. We were told if we left they would lose the only witnesses they had. We were the international witness to the war but we jumped into our cars and left.

In those few weeks before the pullout, the UN had reached an agreement which essentially meant that if any explosives or air attacks took place where we worked, we must evacuate immediately. There were aid organisations from the world over. And at that point the army was closing in—a pincer-like movement from Mullatheevu...



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